Budgerigars are best known as popular cage birds, but for every budgie behind bars there are thousands living free in the wild.
Budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus) are small, highly social parrots native to the Australian outback. The desert environment in which they live is one of the hottest, driest places on Earth, and evolution has therefore equipped these birds with the necessary survival strategies. Able to endure prolonged periods without drinking, budgerigars obtain water from the grass seeds they eat instead. Another survival trick is to lead a nomadic lifestyle, wandering far and wide in search of food and water sources. When times are good, the birds gather in small flocks and travel locally from place to place. Once a food supply is exhausted, they move on to the next source.
Budgerigar superflocks can be made up of many thousands of birds, travelling many hundreds of miles in pursuit of standing water. Many of the birds die when they can’t find enough to eat, but others survive and keep searching, following thunderstorms and looking for places where the rains have come, and the grasses grow.
Images by Roland Seitre unless otherwise stated.
For more Naturepl photo stories, visit our gallery here.